MANDALAY — Five men have been sentenced to at least 10 years in prison for their involvement in a series of bombings that hit Burma’s capital, its second-biggest city and another major town two years ago.
The defendants, all ethnic Shan men, were jailed by a Mandalay court on Wednesday for their roles in bombings that struck Naypyidaw, the city of Mandalay and the nearby town of Pyin Oo Lwin on the same day in 2011.
Their family members, who say the sentencing occurred behind closed doors, have pledged to appeal the verdict.
“My brother is not the culprit, but he was detained as a suspect and has now been sentenced,” said Sai Han Mein, the brother of Sai Thein Naing, who now faces 10 years in prison. He said the five men were being held at Obo Prison in Mandalay. “We will submit an appeal to fight this unjust judicial system,” he added.
Sai Kyaw Than and Sai Moon were also sentenced to 12 years in prison, while Sai Min Sein and Sai Hla Aung were sentenced to 10 years.
The explosions hit on June 24, 2011, with three bombings reportedly occurring within minutes of each other. In the city of Mandalay, a car bomb exploded at a central market, injuring three municipal staff and damaging the market building. Within the hour, an abandoned home in Naypyidaw exploded, and another explosion occurred in Pyin Oo Lwin, a town about 45 miles north of Mandalay where a number of military institutes are located.
State-run newspapers reported at the time that five suspects had been detained and were believed to have purchased the car that exploded near Naygyo market in Mandalay. They were also accused of renting the house that exploded in Naypyidaw’s Thabyaygone quarter.
The defendants’ family members continue to assert their innocence.
“Although we have a concrete alibi, witnesses and facts, my brother was imprisoned. We just want justice,” said Nan Marlar, the sister of Sai Kyaw Than.